Residents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have expressed concern over the risky culture of crossing the highways instead of making use of pedestrian bridges.
The residents while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja attributed the absence of laws, as the major cause of highway crossing, in spite of the never-ending tales of lives lost to hit-and-run drivers.
Mrs Rabia Buba, a Lawyer, said that the absence of pedestrian code of conduct especially in Abuja maybe responsible for pedestrians’ refusal to use the overhead bridges where available.
“The constitution does not mandate pedestrians to use footbridge in Abuja, as there are no express provisions for pedestrians except for motorists and cyclists.
“The constitution does not provide for pedestrians but other laws do, like the Nigerian Highway Code, Federal Highway Act etc,” she said.
Speaking on the issue, Miss Paula Ebere, who ascribed her decision to cross the highway as a matter of fear and absence of law against such act.
” I am scared of heights and get really nostalgic. It makes me dizzy and I become paralyzed with fear. I am unable to move except assisted by someone to get down.
“It’s a choice to use the bridge and if you want to cross the road nobody stops you. It’s not as if there’s one big law that says you should not cross the road.
“You just have to be careful while crossing the road, so that you won’t be knocked down by speeding cars. It just depends on you,” she said.
Mr Chukwugozie Udo, a resident of Nyanya, blamed his decision of crossing the highway on proximity of the foot bridge to the bus stop.
“I am going to Nyanya market, so I can’t begin to trek all the way to the bridge just to cross, then trek back. It doesn’t make sense; I prefer to cross the express road.
“I am not saying using the bridge is bad, If the bridge is close to the park, usage won’t be an issue.
“If government can build one close by, then everyone will use it but until then crossing the road is our only option.
“Is God that protects, you may be walking on your own and a vehicle can divert and kill you. So, we just have to be prayerful, “ he said.
Mr Anaya Ideme, a driver, said that the bridge had no provision for the handicapped, which made usage difficult.
” I can’t use the bridge because of my condition, it’s impossible for me to roll my wheel chair up the bridge.
“Whenever I attempt to cross, some vehicles slow down, while some passersby take time to wave down vehicles, for me so there’s nothing I can do. If the bridge can be created to cater for the needs of people living with disabilities that would be good,” he said.
Although some pedestrians who use the overhead bridge said using the pedestrian bridge was safer for them than risking their lives on a daily basis.
One of them who identified herself as Mrs Augusta Cyrus, said she used the bridge because it had no risk and served as her daily exercise for her.
“I use the bridge because it’s safer for me than struggling to cross the road with all the speeding cars. I can’t cross on my own. So I prefer to drop from my vehicle when am close to the bridge.
“ My doctor will always say I should exercise my legs because of the pain that I am passing through, so even with my leg pain, I will still manage to climb the bridge,” she said.
Miss Jessica Ogbodo, a student, said that she used the bridge because it was stress-free.
According to her, she does not like stress of waving down cars to slow down, to enable her cross the road adding that she preferred to climb the bridge.
The bridge is close to where I am going to, so it’s a lot easier and it saves my time.
“Although, I don’t use the bridge in the evening because of frequent robbery attacks, which is a major issue as the highway is extremely busy in the evening, she said.
Mr Jide Ayofemi, a civil servant, narrated his experience in the hands of soldiers, which made him adapt the use of the footbridge as his only means of crossing.
” I will always use the bridge to cross because I don’t want to suffer any form of punishment in the hands of security officers.
“I have been using the bridge and when I get tired, I take some rest before I continue my journey. The gates at the middle of the road have also helped to discourage people from crossing.”
Meanwhile, residents of Kubwa expressway have called on the government to construct more pedestrian bridges along the expressway to curb the high incidence of road accidents.
The residents told NAN how the lack of pedestrian bridges along populated area has led to regular loss of lives.
One of the residents, Blessing Okoro lamented how it was difficult to cross the express road to work every morning.
Okoro said that her blood pressure rises every morning whenever she was about to cross the Arab junction because the road was too busy.
“In fact, I don’t cross the road until I see more people to tag along with, and this makes me spend more time while crossing the road,” she lamented.
On his part, Mr Chukwuemeka Ogu, said that the Kubwa expressway was constructed when the Arab junction area was less populated.
He added that government should do the needful now that more people were living in the area by providing a foot-bridge in the area.
“A lot of people live around this Arab junction now. Government should not wait till we all die before they construct a pedestrian bridge on this junction,” he said.
Mrs Temi Abimbola, a seamstress, also called on the government to construct more pedestrian bridges along Kubwa expressway, especially at NYSC junction, as corps members’ lives were at stake.
“During orientation camp, this junction is usually very busy and people risk their lives crossing the express. I really don’t know why we don’t have a pedestrian bridge at this junction.
“Government should please consider the lives of these corps members, because on several occasions, I have watched people die on this road,” she said. (NAN)